02 October 2007

A Cold, Cookies, Cafe, and a Park

I got my first Korean cold -- and it sucks just as much as an American cold. Don't worry. Thanks to my regimen of Tylenol Cold, streaming episodes of ABC's Brothers and Sisters, and lots of sleep, I'm feeling much better. I'm just glad that I brought those cold capsules. Koreans favor the powder form of medication, so I'm glad I didn't have to force any packets of cold medication down my throat.

While I was stuck at home, I finally got around to baking with my toaster oven. I actually shelled out around $80US for this little doodad, because I could adjust the temperature (even if it's in Celsius). I think it's going to take some experimentation before I get used to baking with a toaster oven, but all in all, I think this oven was a good investment and worth the long (heavy) trip back from Yonsan.

I didn't have the proper ingredients to bake a batch of cookies from scratch, so I used a chocolate cookie mix from my local supermarket. The baking instructions were all in Korean (duh, Anna) but thanks to a few helpful illustrations, a Korean dictionary, and some educated guessing, I managed to figure it out. Based on the texture of the cookie batter, I suspected that the cookies would turn out a little dry, so I threw in some M&Ms for safe measure. That was a good call. The resulting cookies weren't terrible, but I'd give them a C+ plus at best.

Here are some additional photos from another outing in the Hongdae area.

After some 찜닭 (jjim dalk), stewed chicken, in Hongdae, we checked out a cute little cafe called Kira Kira Hikaru. Though the drinks were a little disappointing, I adored the eclectic, vintage vibe of the cafe. The furniture doesn't match; the decor is scattered with faux antique toys and thingamajigs; and the bookshelf is filled with interesting, odd little books. It was all very hip and Japanese-esque.

This little guy greets you at the cash register at Kira Kira. So kawaii. Now I'm on the hunt for one of my own!

I'm not a big coffee drinker, but it's quite lovely to spend a nice, fall afternoon at a cafe. That's something I never really did in Sunnyvale.

The cooler weather also marks the appearance of some new street food (new to me that is)!

A mini version of Cyndi's favorite, 붕어빵 (선생님: Thanks for the corrections!), warm fished-shaped buns, filled with a sweet bean paste.

I don't know what these are, but they look like andagi, Okinawan donuts.
Edit: My tutor told me that these are called 찹쌀 도넛 (chapssal donuts), glutinous rice donuts. That means that they're not Okinawan donuts, which are more cake-like. Thanks, teacher!

I think these are called 새우빵, shrimp-shaped buns that come with two different cream fillings -- sweet or spicy.

My favorite new find, 고구마 빵, warm, semi-crispy cakes, filled with sweet potato. Yum.

Chestnuts roasting on a not-so-open fire. I love that the vendors peel the chestnuts for you. So convenient!

While in Hongdae, we met up with Hyeyoung's friend, Moon Soo. She's a writer for KBS documentaries (PD specials). I told her that 우리 어머님 두분이 팬이예요. I didn't mention that Korean documentaries are also one of the reasons why our moms are so worried about the dangers of living in Korea.

M.S. 언니 let us walk her energetic dog, 통키 (Tong Ki). Tong Ki is like Henney, but with a greater case of A.D.H.D. He is very friendly with humans (he's scared of other dogs, even the little ones), likes to sing along with ringing cellphones, and can't sit still long enough for a decent photo. He's great!

Tong Ki took us to a great park along the Han River, called 선유도 (Seonyudo). From what I saw, the park is quite beautiful. I can only imagine how nice it is in the daylight. It's quite large, offers a great view of the Han River, and full of great walking/biking paths and well-manicured shrubbery.

I find that in an urban metropolis like Seoul, Koreans take great care in the design of their parks. It may look a little overly manicured and purposefully aesthetic compared to the natural plant life and forestry found along the West Coast of the U.S., but I think it offers a a nice break from city life. You can even rent a bike (one-seater or two-seater) starting at 3000 won an hour.

My camera battery was just about to die, so I didn't have time to properly catch the beauty of the park. Here's what I got:

"통키 앉아!"

Tong Ki and his mom.

You need to take this bridge to get to the park.

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